An Offensive Unit was a purpose-built Culture combat spacecraft.

Types[edit | edit source]

General Offensive Unit[edit | edit source]

The most capable Offensive Units were classified as General Offensive Units (GOU). While earlier GOUs contained a human crew, the later iterations no longer hosted any crew at all. Instead, every cubic centimetre of volume was dedicated to weaponry.

There were various known classes of GOU:

  • Murderer Class
  • Delinquent Class
  • Abominator Class

Rapid Offensive Unit[edit | edit source]

Rapid Offensive Units consist of little more than engines, weapons and the ship's Mind. While some ROUs are crewed, the crew complement on such vessels is much smaller than those of the more general purpose ships of the Culture, such as General Contact Units and General Systems Vehicles. ROUs are the Culture's fastest ships and have been described as having been outrun only once, by the GSV Sleeper Service, which covertly self-optimised itself for speed.

The known classes of ROU were:

  • Killer Class
  • Torturer Class
  • Psychopath Class
  • Gangster Class
  • Thug Class
  • Inquisitor Class

Limited Offensive Unit[edit | edit source]

Limited Offensive Units (LOU)[1] were lesser types of warship.

Known classes were:

  • Hooligan Class
  • Delinquent Class
  • Thug Class
  • Troublemaker Class

Demilitarized ships[edit | edit source]

Offensive Units could be converted into personnel and cargo couriers[2] by removing much of their weaponry.[3] Demilitarized ships lost their status as Offensive Units and received new designations.

Initially, demilitarized ships were known collectively as DeMilitarized Vessels (DMV)[3] and identified by the prefix "(Demilitarized)". For example, a General Offensive Unit would, after conversion, become a (Demilitarized) General Offensive Unit ((D)GOU), while a Rapid Offensive Unit would be redesignated a (Demilitarized) Rapid Offensive Unit ((D)ROU).[4]

From the c. 20th century CE onward, Demilitarized ships were reclassified–with no change in role–as Pickets.[5] (D)GOUs became Fast Pickets (FP)[6], and (D)ROUs became Very Fast Pickets (VFP.)[7]

Demilitarized ships could be reconverted into Offensive Units simply by re-installing their weapons.[8]

Description[edit | edit source]

Structure[edit | edit source]

Earlier classes of OUs had a central physical hull.[9][4][10][11][12]

Control systems[edit | edit source]

OUs were typically controlled by a single Mind.

History[edit | edit source]

The Culture built no purpose-built warcraft in the five hundred years leading up to the Idiran-Culture War.[13] Offensive Unit production was extensive during the war, and most were scrapped during post-war demobilization. Within 200 years the Culture had fewer active warships than at the start of the war.[10]

By the 29th century CE, OUs rarely carried crews[3], and modern LOUs had surpassed previous GOUs.[1]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Hydrogen Sonata, chapter 16 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "HydrogenSonataCh16" defined multiple times with different content
  2. Surface Detail, chapter 16
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Hydrogen Sonata, chapter 5
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Player of Games, chapter 1
  5. Use of Weapons, chapter 1.One
  6. Matter, chapter 10
  7. Matter, chapter 16
  8. Hydrogen Sonata, chapter 9
  9. Consider Phlebas, chapter 9
  10. 10.0 10.1 Excession, chapter 4.5
  11. Surface Detail, chapter 12
  12. Surface Detail, chapter 9
  13. Consider Phlebas, The war, briefly
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